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Shakespeare and the Culture of Romanticism. Edited by JOSEPH M. ORTIZ. Farnham, UK and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013. Pp. xii + 294. $119.95 cloth. Reviewed by DANIEL COOK Romantic Shakespeare has garnered a lot of critical attention in recent years, following the lead of Jonathan Bate in such studies as Shakespeare and the English Romantic Imagination (1986), Shakespearean Constitutions: Politics, Theatre, Criticism 1730–1830 (1989), and The Genius of Shakespeare (1997). Since then, scholars have found much joy in tracing the Bard’s influence on relatively recent additions to the canon of leading Romantic poets, such as Mary Robinson and John Clare, as well as on well-worn favorites, particularly Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats. Researchers working on the long eighteenth century more broadly, however, have tended to look not at the creative appropriation of the works but at the mutability of the Shakespearean text in a century that saw the appearance of a handful of key editions. The 1990s and early 2000s proved to be a notably fecund period for scholars interested in the various ways in which Shakespeare was edited, remediated, and performed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Some of the varied and important studies produced during that time include the work of Michael Dobson, Simon Jarvis, Jean Marsden, Jack Lynch, Marcus Walsh, Margreta de Grazia, and Nigel Cliff. Such studies, to which we can add Joseph M. Ortiz’s essay collection Shakespeare and the Culture of Romanticism, open out Bate’s treatment of Shakespeare’s looming presence in English Romantic poetry. While Ortiz’s collection largely remains in familiar Romanticist territory—with the softest of gestures toward the textual work of Malone and earlier figures, for example—much new work explored here usefully puts the poets back into dialogue with the playwrights, editors, actors, and other members of the literary marketplace. The collection comprises twelve chapters in four distinct, if overlapping, sections : “Rethinking the Romantic Critic”; “Shakespeare and the Making of the Romantic Poet”; “The Romantic Stage”; and “Harnessing the Renaissance: Markets , Religion, Politics.”The contributors attend to some prominent figures, including Wordsworth and Coleridge, but often consider neglected or surprising new areas. Joanna Baillie’s The Martyr (1826) and The Bride (1828) provide coauthors Marjean D. Purinton and Marliss C. Desens ample points of connection with Pericles, a play written at least in part by Shakespeare and often included in modern editions of his works. Zapolya (1817), while not an unknown work, is rarely discussed these days even though Coleridge wrote the play during a significant period in his career as a writer and theorist, as Paola Degli Esposti reminds us. The collection as a whole certainly brings to the fore a wealth of new material pertinent to a critical debate that ran throughout the nineteenth century: are Shakespeare’s works best appreciated when read as poetry or seen in performance? William Hazlitt took a firm stand against performance. Hamlet in particular, he famously argued in Characters of Shakespeare’s Plays (1817), “suffers so much in BOOK REVIEWS 155 being transferred to the stage.”1 Many of the contributors to the present collection depart from this Hazlittian position. Karen Britland deftly probes the often highly mannered theatricality that congealed around Hamlet’s performance history during the nineteenth century. Suddhaseel Sen follows Shakespeare to France in a reading of Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet, which draws on Linda Hutcheon’s scholarship to unpack the politics of translation, the modern debate that pits adaptation against appropriation, and the complicating dynamics of music in operatic reworkings. Hazlitt naturally takes a prominent place in Thomas Festa’s discussion of how the mainstream nineteenth-century reception of Shakespeare augured“an‘authorizing’ . . . condition of Wordsworth’s poetic imagination” (79). But David Chandler makes a strong case for considering other critical voices of the period, notably Walter Savage Landor, whose Citation and Examination of William Shakespeare (1834) famously figures the historical Shakespeare as a mischievous actor. Karen Bloom Gevirtz similarly outlines Elizabeth Inchbald’s importance as a Shakespeare critic, not least of all because Inchbald was a noted playwright and actress in her own right. Other contributors explore Shakespeare’s influence on major poets who have only recently gained a prominent place in the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-3555
Print ISSN
0037-3222
Pages
pp. 155-156
Launched on MUSE
2016-08-15
Open Access
No
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